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Best Summer Family Places to Visit near Pittsburgh, PA

Updated on June 2, 2016
Weekly Educational Program at Living Treasures Animal Park
Weekly Educational Program at Living Treasures Animal Park

The Great Outdoors

Animal Fun

First, if your family LOVES animals, there are a few great places to go, just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. My favorite is the Living Treasures Animal Park, followed by the zoo (there is also the National Aviary, but that is indoors, and is featured in my other article, Best Winter Family Places to Visit in Pittsburgh). Get ready to learn about some great places, by reading the information below!

Living Treasures: Living Treasures Animal Park has two locations; one is New Castle (about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh), and one in Donegal, PA (about an hour from PIttsburgh). I have only ever visited the New Castle location, but I have heard from several others that the New Castle location is slightly nicer than the Donegal location. At living treasures, you are able to purchase feed, and feed many animals there, including the giraffes! The feed is sold separately from the admission, but it is definitely worth the money (the feed is only about $3 per bag/bucket)! The animals are so fun! The park is small, so it can easily been done in a few hours. Want a photo with an animal? It's available for a small fee (I think it was around $6.00 last time that we went for this). My daughter has had a photo with a wallaby once, and then a snake the next time! Living Treasures Animal Park has animals such as donkeys, camels (which you can ride for an extra fee), ponies (which you can also ride for an extra fee), lions, a komodo dragon, alpacas, bats, and more! I highly recommend visiting this location, even if you have to drive a little further than you would prefer. It's definitely worth the fun!

Pittsburgh Zoo: Unlike the Living Treasures Animal Park, the Pittsburgh Zoo is big. It requires a lot of walking, but if you require another mode of transportation around the zoo, tickets can be purchased for a tram that will take you through it (I have never purchased these tickets, but I think they are around $2-4.00 per person). The Pittsburgh Zoo is organized into differently themed areas, and has added/opened some newly renovated areas over the past year. At this zoo, you may see lions, elephants, gorillas, monkeys, and more! The zoo also has polar bears, but they are not able to be viewed during their mating season. Additionally, the Pittsburgh Zoo includes a PPG Aquarium, where many different species of fish are displayed, sharks as well, and you can even pet a sting ray! If you don't like crowds, my best suggestion is to walk this zoo backwards; begin at the aquarium, and work your way back down to the entrance. Finally, the Pittsburgh Zoo has a merry-go-round, that children can ride for a small fee (I think it is also about $1 or $2.00, but I'm not sure currently). Finally, the Pittsburgh Zoo offers summer camps for kids. I put my daughter in this camp one year, so I stayed, and walked through the zoo on my own. I encountered some intriguing interactions, from rhinos interacting with each other (I couldn't tell if they were fighting or playing) to a leopard eating a bird that flew into its cage (sorry, I don't have any video of that one)!


Kennywood: Love roller coasters? Head to Kennywood, an amusement park in the area of Pittsburgh known as West Mifflin (this may possibly show up in a GPS as West Mifflin, PA). This park features various roller coasters, other unique rides,and kiddie rides. Additionally, there are a few different food options available. Kennywood also has paddle boats (I believe for an extra fee). I would like to caution you on the admission price though. I believe it is in the $30's per person, but tickets may be purchased online, and sometimes, discounted tickets may be purchased at a local grocery store chain, called "Giant Eagle." This park and the nearby Sandcastle Water Park have created combined passes, in which you gain admission to both parks for certain periods of time.

Water Fun

Sandcastle Water Park: Don't like roller coasters, but prefer to be brave at water parks? No worries. Head to Sandcastle Water Park, in Homestead, PA. Although this is far from the best water park I have ever visited, it is still fun, but small. It features a wave pool, a regular pool, and several water slides. In addition, the last time I visited (which was over a year ago), it still had a hot tub and a bar (I believe it was only open at certain times though). I recommend wearing flipflops around the park, as the walkway can get extremely hot. Lockers are available for a fee, and there is a shoe-cubby by the water slides. If you get hungry, there are plenty of park restaurant options for you. Daily admission is expensive at this park (I believe beween $36 and $46 per person), so if you plan on visiting for even just two days, I suggest buying the season pass, which is frequently sold for two for $99.00. This price will get you for as many days as you would like, for the whole season. If you are both a water park and amusement park fanatic, you may want to check out the combined admission tickets, that allow you access to both Sandcastle and Kennywood.

Settler's Cabin Wave Pool: If your family would like to just spend a whole day in a wave pool, head to the Settler's Cabin Wave Pool in Oakdale, PA. At this location, tubes are able to be rented (to use to float on the waves), and a concession stand is available. I have been to this wave pool once, so I will advise you to be prepared for a large crowd! It does seem to get extremely busy.

Summer Sports: Finally, Pittsburgh is knows as a SPORTS CITY. During the summer, attending a Pirate's baseball game is quite popular. The Pirates even occasionally have "Pup Nights," when your dogs are actually welcome to come with you to the game! Out of all of the professional sports in Pittsburgh, this one is the most affordable, and it is easy to purchase tickets for the games. Although not as popular as the rest of the sports in Pittsburgh, there is also a soccer team, called the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Want to honor the military? With Memorial Day arriving within a few weeks, head to Sewickley, PA (about a 20 minute drive from PIttsburgh, PA) for the town's annual "Memorial Day Parade." This is, by far, the best parade that Sewickley ever holds. The respect for veterans, past and present is evident. I highly recommend visiting this town during Memorial Day Weekend (hotels are available in the next town over, called Moon Township; most of the hotels are on University Blvd.).

Conclusion: Pittsburgh is such a great place to take your family! There are just so many places to visit, even with kids of a variety of ages. If you have any additional questions, please just comment below, and I'll do my best to answer them.

Mother/Child Bonding at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Mother/Child Bonding at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Living Treasures Animal Park
Living Treasures Animal Park

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